If I would be so bold and squeeze the years that have gone in two words, I would say THANK YOU.
The time has come for us to bid goodbye to 2017. The ride has been amazing but as all other great things do: it, too, has to come to an end.
Soon, we will have to revisit our sorry list of must-do’s — or, more appropriately, should-have-done’s — and look at them with sincere sorrow and, obviously, disappointment. Well, you know what they say: At least, we’ve tried, my friend.
I find it a happy coincidence that we end each year with, perhaps, the happiest season there is. Twinkling lights are hung over the main thoroughfares of the city. Jolly carols are sung. Gifts are stacked beneath that worn plastic tree we religiously set up every year. It’s Christmas and we cannot but be happy.
I don’t get it quite well yet. I am not sure if happiness leads to gratitude or it is the other way around. Or, perhaps, nothing leads to anything and they’re but one state of being which our human definitions cannot be applied to despite our best efforts. Regardless, life is best lived in gratitude, and this is something that I have always striven to do. Surprisingly, it is not as easy as one would think. Gratitude requires more than a mumbled thank-you or a not-so-well-thought-of present bought from some nondescript store somewhere. Gratitude is a lifestyle. Gratitude is attitude.
Here are 5 of the things we should be thankful for before we end the year.
1. YOU ARE BLESSED WITH LIFE. BE GRATEFUL.
Around 40 million babies have been aborted in 2017 and another 3.7 million have died during infancy. This may sound grim but this staggering statistics cannot but make us feel, for the lack of a better word, “lucky” to be alive. They say that our chance of being born is one in a billion but what we are not told is that staying alive is an even more grueling task.
I just turned thirty last month and I cannot thank God enough for endowing me with the years and the experience. Of course, it hasn’t been a smooth ride but the good things always outweigh the bad.
No matter how bad things may seem at the moment, step back and take a look at the things that you’ve been blessed with. You are breathing. Be grateful.
2. YOU ARE BLESSED WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. BE GRATEFUL.
I have been lucky to have grown in a loving family. We didn’t have much but that did not — and will never — stop us from loving each other. Well, of course, there were the usual bickering and petty squabbles but those just made us love each other more.
I came face to face with depression at one time. It wasn’t me but a friend. Puberty could be cruel and my friend was going through a tough time. It started with him not wanting to be around people until we, people, didn’t want to be around him, too. He got through it with some help but it scarred him — and us, too — for life.
Mental health has been becoming an issue lately with all the mass shooting and suicide incidents we’ve heard from the news. Mass shooting and suicide are just a couple of the horrible, yet feasible, consequences of depression. Despite the apparent medical breakthroughs we are currently seeing, there is still no substitute to the warmth provided by an accepting circle of family and friends.
Let your family know how much you care for them. You have what 140 million orphans don’t. Be grateful.
3. YOU HAVE FOOD ON THE TABLE. BE GRATEFUL.
Do you know how many people don’t have jobs to support their family? More than 3.4 million people in the world struggle to get a living.
Well, we complain about not getting enough — you know, not enough bonus, not enough commission, not enough everything. And, that is fine. We are an entitled generation after all.
I remember growing up and seeing my Pa having to work two jobs and getting paid shit just to put food on the table and send us to school. It was hard. Now, I wouldn’t want to go through what my father did. I think I wouldn’t last as long. All these make me appreciate what I currently have. Sure, it wasn’t like Google or Microsoft but, believe me, I am having the greatest time of my life.
Appreciate what you have. You are still able to bring food to the table for your family. Be grateful.
4. YOU CAN READ AND WRITE. BE GRATEFUL.
There has been a great improvement in terms of literacy in the country. Almost every one that I know can read and write, communicate in English and do basic math. The question, perhaps, is how significant can education really be in a society.
I say a person is educated if he or she has the capacity to interact with others using known conventions such as reading and writing, solve basic mathematical problems and carry a decent conversation with others. I don’t necessarily mean a college degree — though that can be another advantage one may want to enjoy. By education, I refer to the exercise of acquiring the necessary sets of skills in order to get a job, raise a family, run a business or, in general, function as a civilized man in society.
But, if you really think about it, education, in its sincerest form, is hope. For a lot of people, education is a means to an end, And, that end is always about escaping poverty. Nelson Mandela said: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world — at least, in our case, our own little world.
If you are reading this right now, be grateful.
5. YOU ARE LIVING IN PEACE. BE GRATEFUL.
I read an article somewhere about the world’s least livable cities in 2017. Apparently, some people tried to see the livability – or not – of a city based on the following factors: political stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
I remember reading this while stuck in traffic and cursing the long queue of vehicles beneath the blistering heat of the sun. According to the report, ten cities are considered the least livable in 2017. These cities are Damascus in Syria, Lagos in Nigeria, Tripoli in Libya, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, Algiers in Algeria, Karachi in Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe, Douala in Cameroon and Kiev in Ukraine. These cities are beset with war, instability, hunger, sickness, terrorism, among other things. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate being stuck in a road jam but I cannot but feel blessed that I don’t have to worry about being bombed on the road.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that man’s needs are divided into five tiers: physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-actualization. Imagine telling this to a starving kid who lost his parents and some limbs in the middle of war. If you are lucky enough to live in a community that builds you, be grateful.
We all wish for happiness now and in the years to come. I have always been talking about happiness. However, I come to realize that happiness is not something you can consume… or use… or wear. Perhaps, this is the very reason why it seems more elusive than we think it would be. Happiness is lived. It is experienced. It is enjoyed. Living in gratitude, I believe, is the best way to be happy.